Wednesday 8 December 2010

One Pence Wonders

I should admit from the outset - I've wholesale stolen this idea from The Dabbler, where they occasionally feature reviews of books which are available from a penny (plus postage) on Amazon. I thought I'd collect a whole bunch of ideas for 1p shopping - more affordable to indulge in for yourself whilst doing your Christmas shopping, perhaps?

To offset this, since I know some people aren't absolutely certain about Amazon, I'll also mention something which was emailed to me today - Better World Books, which has opened a UK site for selling books, and contributes money to literacy initiatives.

And if you're concerned about authors getting the money themselves, feel free to use these suggestions to buy new copies of the books.

Caveats over; back to 1p books... I'm afraid this is only for the UK Amazon site. They might be cheap in dollars or euros or... no, these are the only currencies I can think of. Pesatas don't exist any more, do they? OH! Swiss Francs! Now I'm out.

I'm not going to litter the post with links, so I'll just say that full reviews of these books are mostly available, just click on the relevant author on the drop-down menu over to the <----- left, or here for all book reviews. The number of 1p copies available will include hardbacks and paperbacks, and all editions I could spot. These are just the first ten I thought of, and then found for a penny - if this proves popular, I'll put my thinking cap on again in the future.

-Speaking of Love (2007)
-Angela Young

-My favourite novel from the 2000s, and one of the first I was sent to review, Young writes about storytelling, family relationships, and mental illness in a captivating and beautiful way.
-1p copies available: 15

-Alva & Irva: The Twins That Saved A City (2004)
-Edward Carey

-A surreal look at twin girls, one of whom is agoraphobic, in a fictional world which they recreate out of plasticine. Bizarre and brilliant.
-1p copies available: 20

-Yellow (2005)
-Janni Visman
-Another novel about agoraphobia, sparcely and cleverly told. With a cat in it.
-1p copies available: 31

-Jacob's Room (1922)
-Virginia Woolf

-If you've never tried Woolf, this is a great place to start. Short, not too experimental, but gives you a taste of Woolf as she starts to experiment with the novel.
-1p copies available: 18+

-Loitering With Intent (1981)
-Muriel Spark

-The author I fell in love with this year, and the book which did it - a witty and deadpan look at the world of publishing and egotism.
-1p copies available: 6

-Lolly Willowes (1926)
-Sylvia Townsend Warner
-A perfect portrait of spinsterhood, and something rather more subversive; beautifully written throughout.
-1p copies available: 4

-Mrs. Miniver (1939)
-Jan Struther

-If you've seen the film, it's time to read the (rather different) inspiration - the life of a wife and mother in the 1930s, Mrs. M. is quinessentially middlebrow.
-1p copies available: 24

-Beasts and Super-Beasts (1914)

-Wickedly funny, surprising and unsentimental short stories.
-1p copies available: 3 (you'll have to organise by price, low to high, to find 'em)

-Love and Freindship/Friendship (1790)
-Jane Austen
-If you think you've read everything by Jane Austen, make sure you've read the juvenilia. Probably lots of editions around, but I've picked the beautiful Hesperus edition for this witty, exuberant tale.
-1p copies available: 3

-Tom's Midnight Garden (1958)
-Philippa Pearce

If you're looking to entertain a child (and keep yourself enthralled too) this time-travel tale is eventful enough for them, and emotionally involving enough for you. I cried...
-1p copies available: 100+


  1. I love the idea Simon, tempred to pinch it from you. Not so much for christmas presents but just a great way to get recommendations for books cheap enough to take a chance on.

  2. I remember reading and loving Mrs Miniver years ago. I wonder if I still have my copy? Thanks for reminding me of it.

  3. How wonderful! Not sure I can shop from the UK Amazon, but then, I've never experimented to find out. I like the broad range of your list, both in subject matter and time of publication, but the only one I've read is Tom's Midnight Garden -- a family favorite here, and I "highly second" your recommendation. :)
    Hope you are getting lots of rest.

  4. I just have to chime in and say how much I loved "Tom's Midnight Garden" growing up. I'm glad you mentioned it!

  5. Great fun post Simon! I can't believe you can actually buy anything - and certainly not books - for 1 p!

  6. Those in America can get books for 1c so they have access to books just as cheap :-)

    It is also worth knowing that you can get books even cheaper on

    I'd like to add The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel to your list. I love it!!

  7. Just added Love and Friendship to my wish list! Thanks for the 1p list!

  8. I'm a huge fan of Better World Books and their literacy work. We can get them in the states through Alibris, and what's more, they frequently get here faster than books sent from somewhere else in the country.

    I love that you added Lolly Willows, a book that isn't given the attention it deserves, I think. And thank you, because you've given me several more books to look out for!


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